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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (the official title). It is also the last Sunday of the Church's liturgical year.

As feasts go, Christ the King (the more common title) is really a late-comer. As I have written before, it was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a counterweight to the growing trend to deify the state as the ultimate source of both power and loyalty. This was most especially exemplified by the totalitarian governments of the time, especially the communists in Russia, the fascists in Italy and, later, the Nazis in Germany. The Church was reacting to systems of government that sought to place themselves, instead of God, in the hearts of their citizens. While all three may have gone away, the errors they propounded have stayed, taking other forms.

Dear Friends,

We had a great (but mini) celebration of the Saints at and after the 9:30AM Mass last weekend. They processed around the church at the end of Mass and then went outside on the Passaic Street lawn for games, donuts and Juice. You can find the pictures on the parish website. It was great to see so many children in church and, hopefully another sign of a return to a "more" normal life. The smiling faces and the excitement were a welcome sight after so many months of wariness because of Covid.

Speaking of a return to a "more" normal life, I want to share with you some concrete numbers that show that to be the case. I'm sure many remember the days when you had to register when planning to come to mass. When we first started registration, Labor Day weekend, 2020, the total number in attendance at all the masses was 461. At March, 2021, one year after the start of the pandemic, it was 726. By May, when registration ended, it was 895. In September, 2021, we did a special count the last two weekends and the attendance averaged 1409. We did another mass count this past weekend and the number was 1805. So, we've come a long way since the Labor Day weekend, 2020. But still a far distance from the average pre-covid attendance, November, 2019, which was 2501. But we keep trying and, hopefully, the upward trend will continue.

Dear Friends,

After an absence of two weeks (one for the Cardinal and one for Fr. Felix), I finally get to write again. I want to share a couple of experiences with you.

On October 23, I renewed the vows of the first couple I ever married on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. As a deacon and in my first year as a priest I taught the marriage course to seniors at Holy Family High School (now closed) in Union City. The bride to be was one of my students and her intended was already out of high school, working. They married two months after graduation. It was a time when pre-cana was just beginning, there was no "one year in advance" notice to the church and reception venues could be booked one or two months in advance. It was a great joy for me to celebrate with them, to see that their mutual love and faith in God and the power of the sacrament would see them through the joys and struggles of marriage. I had not seen them in about 45 years and so I had the chance to meet their three grown children and their six grandchildren. All of them are faithful, practicing Catholics and in a card they said there was no doubt that the "marriage blessing .influenced our path in life." It was a joy to share that special evening with them and to know that God has walked with them in these years.

Dear Friends,

What a great weekend. It was the start of the Vine and the Branches-Reengaging CHRIST in Community, the campaign in every parish in the Archdiocese to stir up a new fervor to return to the Eucharist and the sacraments and presence in the community of faith. I think most of us experienced a greater number of our brothers and sisters at our Eucharistic celebrations. Perhaps this was because we announced the blessing of the "backpacks" of our children, which was really the blessing for the children themselves, as they began a new school year, the first full year of day to day in person learning since March of 2020. As I mentioned at the masses I celebrated, we were a little late with this blessing, since school opened over a month ago. And that's true. But, we wanted to tie it in with the Block Party and we decided to push the Block Party back a few weeks to see where things were at with the children after a few weeks of school. All seemed to go well and the children who came forward for the blessing seemed to really enjoy it.

Dear Friends,

Since July we have had the pleasure of Fr. Felix serving the needs of our community. His insightful homilies, and joy and exuberance of celebrations have lifted our spirits and given us new understanding of our faith. Fr. Felix will be going back to Nigeria at the end of the month. On the next page, Fr. Felix will share the work that he does in his homeland, especially for the youth of his country. When he first came, he asked if at the end of his time here, he could make an appeal on behalf of the work he does in Nigeria. Next weekend, Fr. Felix will preach at all the masses on behalf of that work. In gratitude for his work among us, I ask for your support of his ministry.

Next weekend, there will be a special in-pew collection for Fr. Felix's foundation. You know we have not yet returned to in-pew collections for the support of the parish. And we are not ready to do that yet. So there won't be two in-pew collections. We ask you to continue to use the boxes at the doors of the church for your regular parish support. The in- pew collection will only be for Fr. Felix's ministry in Nigeria.

Dear Friends,

Happy fall, and pumpkin and apple pickin' and Halloween and sparkling days and chilly nights and busy calendars, even in the pandemic. And, let's hope and pray, a decline in the delta variant and Covid in general, locally, in the US and around the world.

As I said, fall is the time for busy calendars. And here are some events of ours that I want to remind you about.

-This Sunday evening, 10/3, at 6:00PM at St. Luke's, Ho-Ho-Kus there will be a Special Eucharistic Prayer Service for the success of the Archdiocesan initiative, Vine & Branches, to lead us to a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist and our connection with one another. All are invited. For more information, see the blurb in today's bulletin.

Dear friends,

Recently, someone stopped me after Mass to say it was the first time back since the start of the pandemic, over a year and a half ago, and then added, "It was time to get off the couch." IS IT TIME YET FOR YOU TO GET OFF THE COUCH? IF NOT NOW, WHEN? You're as safe here as anywhere else!

There are three up-coming events that I want to remind everyone about. The first two are free, the third is not. The first is Angels in the Pews, on Wednesday, October 6th, from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM, in the church. With the on-going pandemic we sometimes forget about the crisis of addiction that has been, and continues to be its own epidemic in our society. Angels in the Pews is an awareness campaign, to remind us of those lives taken by addiction. As the flyer in today's bulletin states, come, "view the posters, look at the faces, look into their eyes, read their stories - as each will speak back.'" Bring your teenagers, or encourage them to come because they certainly are in a vulnerable age group. It can be a learning moment for us all.

Dear Friends,

Being an old timer, I get my news the old fashioned way- by watching the main stream media on something we used to call a TV. By main stream media, I mean one of the "big 3," CBS, NBC and ABC. And I usually watch between four and five, because that s kind of a quiet time before dinner. I was watching on Tuesday and a large segment of the hour was given over to the re-opening of Broadway. Five productions were all re-opening that evening. What struck me was the enthusiasm and excitement of those involved in the productions, performers, stage hands, etc. Early Wednesday morning, a segment aired on the audience reaction at the conclusion of one of those performances. It was marked by the same thing, excitement, enthusiasm and appreciation to be back, even as an audience fully masked. And in both instances it was contagious. Even through the TV screen, you could feel that excitement and enthusiasm and gratitude to be back.

Dear Friends,

In past years, I have alternately started this first column after Labor Day with phrases like Welcome Back, Welcome Home, Happy New Year. Those sentiments reflect a kind of universal attitude that sees the start of school as a new beginning. But I'm not sure that's the case this year. Oh, there are some new things, in-person learning (without the virtual option), masks in schools. But they're not really new. They are tweaks of something that has become very old-the pandemic. It's still with us, in its virulent Delta variant. And promises to be with us for longer than we all had hoped. As we begin this new program year, we try, as I am sure you all do, to figure out the best course of action. What we need to do; what we hope to do; what we would like to do and try to do, even with all the cautions we need to be aware of. In the parish, in our programs and activities, we will always follow the two guidelines we have tried to be faithful to in these past many months: (1) the safety of everyone who comes through the doors, for whatever purpose, liturgies, programs, activities, and (2) respect for the decisions every person and family makes for their own safety. And whatever comes, to always remember, as I say at the beginning of every weekend liturgy I celebrate, the God Who loves us, walks with us in our journey, to lift us, to encourage us, to give us hope.

Dear Friends,

I think I've been pretty faithful to my promise not to bother you through the summer (unless Covid forced me to). But I leave Thursday morning for a week or so in PA and I wanted to remind you of a couple of important things.

-Covid Developments. There has really been nothing new, relative to the way we celebrate liturgies in these last few weeks. I remind everyone the transepts continue to be roped to accommodate those who want to continue to practice social distancing. While not a rule, it is also a place of caution for those who feel safer wearing a mask, although everyone who is vaccinated, whether masked or unmasked, may sit anywhere in the church. Even if there is no Minister of Hospitality to direct it, please maintain social distancing during the communion procession. We are still trying to avoid a "communion line." To facilitate this, we ask that only one side of the Passaic Street transept enter the communion procession at a time. Above all, let's respect one another and the decisions and protocols each person has adopted to keep themselves and others safe until this Delta variant passes.

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